Tim Smith, the Tesco technical director and former head of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), lobbied the government over a report into the food poisoning contamination rates for chicken in supermarkets, according to a report in the Guardian.
The Guardian claims Smith told the Department of Health that publishing the results of the contamination tests could damage the poultry industry.
Smith’s appointment at Tesco had to be approved by David Cameron on advice from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, with the proviso that he didn’t lobby on behalf of Tesco for two years.
The poultry industry has been under pressure for some time in the UK, with the FSA pushing for a collective improvement of conditions. Some of the most worrying concerns relate to a potentially lethal bacteria campylobacter, a common cause of food poisoning.
The FSA has been planning to name and shame the supermarkets with the highest rates of infected poultry in an attempt to pressure them into improving conditions.
Although cooking usually kills the bacteria, it is extremely worrying that six in 10 chickens tested by the FSA were carrying the bug, according to results published this August by the FSA. Another report is due out this Thursday.